Monday, January 26, 2009
Children's National Medical Center
“This is a desperate cause because we have 1800 patients we see on an annual basis with Type One Diabetes," stated Dianne Wicklein, Director of Development for The Children's Hospital Foundation. "As you probably know, diabetes—Type One and Type Two—is an epidemic now, Type Two especially. In the past, you never heard of children having Type Two Diabetes. But now thanks to the sedentary lifestyles, lack of exercise and so forth we are now seeing it in children at a very, very alarming rate. In fact, DC has the highest rate now nationally of children with Type Two Diabetes."
Ms. Wicklein was standing in The Atrium of The Children's National Medical Center in NW Washington, DC. Surrounding her were young children of all ages--suffering from diabetes and other illnesses. And Our Washington Nationals were on hand to help out in making their future a better one. Looking to close out this four day tour strong, one of very last stops on The 2009 Winter Caravan may actually be one of the most important ones. Since March of 2007, The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation has committed to assisting in helping to build a Diabetes Care Complex at The Michigan Avenue NW Children's Hospital.
"The total cost of the project is $5 Million Dollars," continued Ms. Wicklein. "The Nationals made the lead gift of $2 Million Dollars, and what's happened with their commitment, was that we (Children’s National Medical Center) were able to secure space in this hospital's master facilities plan.”
So basically The Nationals have jump-started and got the word out there that otherwise you might never had been able to do? (SBF)
Ms. Wicklein: “Absolutely. We would not have been able to start this project without them. We have a wonderful working relationship with them and we are both committed—together—to at least get us to $3.75 Million ASAP!! And then all the way to $5 Million.” Currently, $1.1 Million has been raised in additional funding. Once that $3.75 Million level is attained, ground can be broken on the Complex Care Center."
Since The Dream Foundation's investment, over 248 additional donations ranging from $5 to $500,000 have been pledged.
“The Children’s Complex is really going well. We are happy to with the progress," added Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, Chair of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. "But I would like to get over the financial hump this year. I really would like to get there. Granted, it’s a tough time to raise money, but this is such an exciting opportunity for The Dream Foundation to get these doors open—so we keep pushing it."
The Dream Foundation is driving the cause forward because, to many, time is of the essence in curtailing the epidemic of pediatric diabetes. “Of our 1800 patients, about 89% of them are Type One Patients, 11% Type Two and growing. This is a chronic illness that needs a lot of care, ongoing care, and education—so you need adequate space to be able to do that," explained Dianne Wicklein. "And the facilities we have now here at the hospital are very inadequate to properly teach and support our families in the way we really need to. We do a wonderful job already. We have the premiere program, I think, in the entire Metropolitan Area for Type One Diabetes. But what we could do with this additional dedicated space is just phenomenal.”
For nearly one hour, Josh Willingham, Scott Olsen, Justin Maxwell, Steven Shell, Terrell Young, Mike O'Connor, Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes and TV Broadcaster Bob Carpenter entertained the ill youths. Even My Best Friend Screech!! was on hand to provide some laughter. Of all the Winter Caravan Events witnessed over the past extended weekend, this stop at The Children's National Medical Center had that special feeling of importance. The opportunity to assist one less fortunate today and make their life a better tomorrow.
“We (The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation) needed a health cornerstone in Washington", concluded Ms. Tanenbaum. "Diabetes is so under funded because it’s such a chronic disease. This is something you live with for a long period of time. It’s expensive; it requires a lot of education. The really horrible effects of the disease might not manifest itself until later in life. There are so many things about diabetes that make it difficult to fund. And there is such a wellness component to it that I felt a sports franchise (Our Washington Nationals) must have something to say about that?”
PS--Some of you may recall a special "Text To Give" night at Nationals Park last season.
Dianne Wicklein: “Last year on July 13th, we had the First Annual Children’s Nationals Day at Nationals Park. That was very exciting. Our kids were all involved in the Pre-Game. We launched the first in Major League Baseball “Text To Give” where people could text in their donation while at the ballpark enjoying the game. It was a miracle we got that program approved by Major League Baseball but it was so successful we are going to be doing it again this year. Our second annual event will be on July 5th, 2009”.